New director of Penn State's Graduate Program in Acoustics named


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Andrew Barnard, a Penn State alumnus and current associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, will join Penn State as the director of the Graduate Program in Acoustics, housed within the College of Engineering, on Jan. 1, 2022.

“The acoustics program at Penn State is extraordinarily unique,” Barnard said. “It is world-renowned for what it has accomplished, and having the opportunity to lead this program is a unique opportunity in academia. There is no other program like the Graduate Program in Acoustics at Penn State, and this opportunity was too good to pass up.”

Barnard, who also is the current director of the Great Lakes Research Center and Marine Research Assets Facility at Michigan Technological University, plans to teach courses on noise-control engineering in addition to his responsibilities as program director.

“Acoustics is a very customer-centric field, which really excites me because everyone in the world is a customer,” Barnard said. “We are designing products and spaces for people. Acoustics is very people-oriented and multidisciplinary.”

In his new role, Barnard said he wants to act as a catalyst for interdisciplinary research and help the acoustics program expand its research portfolio by better incorporating itself into the college and the University. One of his main goals is to increase the program’s enrollment by working to educate students about the multidisciplinary aspects of acoustics. He specifically plans to focus on recruiting Penn State engineering undergraduate students to the graduate program.

“The longer I am in the acoustics field, the more opportunities I see for acoustical engineers in many different industries and many different areas of research,” Barnard said. “I want to get Penn State’s name out there and really work to grow the program.”

Barnard said he also plans to incorporate entrepreneurship into the program and motivate students to pursue every opportunity that comes their way.

“What excites me the most is helping others be successful, and that goes for both students and faculty,” Barnard said. “I want to mentor new faculty and help them grow their research and teaching skills and help our students not only learn acoustics but also learn how to interact professionally in whatever field they choose to pursue. I am really looking forward to the people-building part of the program.”

Barnard earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University. He earned his doctoral degree in acoustics from Penn State. While at Penn State, Barnard worked in the Applied Research Laboratory, focusing on structural acoustics and underwater acoustics.

Barnard first became interested in acoustics when he was an undergraduate student. He said the concepts of acoustics combined his love for music and his passion for engineering, making it the perfect marriage of his hobbies and educational background.

Throughout his collegiate and professional career, Barnard has worked on a wide range of projects focused on a variety of acoustics applications, including: advancing marine technology, fire extinguisher noise control, underwater vehicle noise and vibration, and carbon nanotube loudspeakers. Barnard also co-founded two startup companies with former students of his, NanoSound Inc. and SwimSmart LLC.

Barnard succeeds Victor Sparrow, current director of the Graduate Program in Acoustics, who has led the program since 2010.

“We are so excited to see Dr. Barnard return to his alma mater,” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “His experience across multiple disciplines aligns perfectly with the multidisciplinary nature of our Graduate Program in Acoustics. I am confident he will hit the ground running and continue the exceptional work that Dr. Sparrow has done for the program over the years.”


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